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965                                              Forefathers

HERE they went with smock and crook,
    Toil’d in the sun, loll’d in the shade,
Here they muddled out the brook
    And here their hatchet clear’d the glade:
Harvest-supper woke their wit,
Huntsman’s moon their wooings lit.
From this church they led their brides,
    From this church themselves were led
Shoulder-high; on these waysides
    Sat to take their beer and bread.
Names are gone—what men they were
These their cottages declare.
Names are vanish’d, save the few
    In the old brown Bible scrawl’d;
These were men of pith and thew
    Whom the city never call’d;
Scarce could read or hold a quill,
Built the barn, the forge, the mill.
On the green they watch’d their sons
    Playing till too dark to see,
As their fathers watch’d them once,
    As my father once watch’d me;
While the bat and beetle flew
On the warm air webb’d with dew.
Unrecorded, unrenown’d,
    Men from whom my ways begin,
Here I know you by your ground
    But I know you not within—
There is silence, there survives
Not a moment of your lives.
Like the bee that now is blown
    Honey-heavy on my hand,
From his toppling tansy-throne
    In the green tempestuous land—
I’m in clover now, nor know
Who made honey long ago.

966                                            The Survival

TO-DAY’S house makes to-morrow’s road;
    I knew these heaps of stone
When they were walls of grace and might,
The country’s honour, art’s delight
That over fountain’d silence show’d
    Fame’s final bastion.
Inheritance has found fresh work,
    Disunion union breeds;
Beauty the strong, its difference lost,
Has matter fit for flood and frost.
Here’s the true blood that will not shirk
    Life’s new-commanding needs.

With curious costly zeal, O man,
    Raise orrery and ode;
How shines your tower, the only one
Of that especial site and stone!
And even the dream’s confusion can
    Sustain to-morrow’s road.


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